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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Brown Canyon, NM

no permit
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Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 2.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 9,408 feet
Elevation Gain -522 feet
Accumulated Gain 90 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 2.7
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
Post the 1st photoset!
Author imike
author avatar Guides 253
Routes 0
Photos 6,930
Trips 2,467 map ( 21,513 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Cloudcroft, NM
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jul, Aug, Jun, Sep → Early
Seasons   Early Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  5:51am - 6:01pm
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
No ATV's!!
by imike

Likely In-Season!
Taking off from the metal pole barrier blocking the old logging road (6409), you walk down and to your left, away from the road, into the middle of the meadow, following the single track as it meanders down canyon. Though not noticeable in the upper section, there was also a logging road that traversed the entire length of the canyon bottom. It will become more noticeable as you hike further along, and you have the option of hiking this low bench on the left side of the canyon, or staying in the center of the meadow. There are elk paths following both.

The old logging road bed offers some shady protection, often wandering up and into the timber above the canyon bottom. It also crosses a number of active springs. The largest forming a bit of a marshy crossing, ripe with the assortment of hoof prints representing the animal life taking advantage of the running water. I spotted deer, elk, turkey and cat... along with cattle prints.

What was most exceptional about the route down and around this drainage was the total lack of any sign of ATV. I do not know why they have neglected this great trail... every other off limits old route has been thoroughly abused... but, to date, it was only animal tracks gracing the dirt and mud.

At 1.5 miles into the hike, just around the bend from the larger spring/seep, there are a number of old gate posts... if you exit the logging road to your left at this point you will walk up by a gurgling spring, and if you follow the tilted bench up and around, you will eventually come out above the seep you crossed earlier. At this point you can move off to your right, following a well used elk trail... that will carry you up into a "Sherwood Forest" setting of close, tall pines and firs, intermixed with moss covered rocks. This terminus of a rock slide marks the base of the cliffs that were visible from early on in the hike, and provide a great spot for taking a break. This .2 mile side trek is well worth the time and effort.

Walking the .2 tenths of a mile back to the main logging road, you will then enjoy a nicely tree shaded section. Unfortunately, there is only .5 miles of trail left to enjoy. If you follow the upper logging road, it winds around and out of the canyon, terminating up in Water Canyon along the Old Sunspot Hiway (FR5009). If you follow the split to the right, it will drop you down into the bottom of Brown Canyon... where you can follow the track down and around into Water Canyon... or slope back up to connect with that upper logging road track (it loops).

These routes make for great looping connections, including an off trail potential back up to the old logging road (6411) that will wind you back around to the starting point on FR 64.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2012-06-21 imike

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Brown Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Birds, Bees, Butterflies, Bear and Bull Elk!

    Exceptionally nice to have the cool morning air, but even if it were warmer out, the cut of the trail would have kept me walking in deep shade. Winding around the western edge of the ridges is ideal morning routing. On one of the earlier curves I came in sight of the rear end of an elk... grazing with his head down and away from me. I walked softly to within about 20 yds, then turned on the camera. The buzz caused him to lift his head and turn towards me... big rack of antlers! Hopefully, I got that full face shot. (Can't tell on my camera until later; view screen has not worked since that fall down the waterfall last year!)

    More curves... more elk... lots of bull elk. They'd move on aways, then bugle or honk a complaint.

    I moved around the old logging road track, splitting off and down towards Water Canyon... the idea to traverse around to Telephone Canyon if all went well.

    It did!

    At the far end of the lower leg of 6411, where the road bed deadended, the elk trails began. I followed them down and around into the lower section of Telephone Canyon, dropping bench to bench and finally into the lower meadow area, intersecting Willie White Trail just as it began it's trek up Telephone. The Elk did good! In many respects, their trails were nicer than those official tracks maintained by the Forest Service!

    One down, I decided to hike up Water Canyon. The official route is 5009, the Old Sunspot Hiway... but, the canyon bottom had long ago held a logging road, and it promised a more interesting route than the open, exposed old hiway. I was not 100 yds into the up canyon walk when I sited a potential side canyon trail. I am constantly on the lookout for these old cuts; they tend to lead to very interesting mini-adventures.

    I stopped and started to eyeball the trail line up the side of the opposite hill. At the first bunch of brushes obscuring the thin trail I noted the observer was being observed. A Black Bear was tucked in behind the shrubbery watching me. I watched him back. He watched, me watched, we watched. After a time I broke the stalemate with some idle chatter, assuring him I was headed up Water Canyon... and I apologized for interrupting his drinking interlude. He ambled on up trail, away from me. I did the same from him. I need to go back and check out that trail, sans bear.

    I was two hours into my hiking day as I worked my way up along the little stream that irrigates most of the length of the canyon. It was interesting. The hot air rising on the ridges was causing a down draft of cold air, hitting face on as I worked my way up the drainage. It was cooler than it had been at 5am!

    To hike Water Canyon on those lower trail as opposed to the upper road cut is an entirely different experience. It is the way to do this canyon.

    The bird life... the flowers... the butterflies... the soft gurgle of water. I found myself stopping, sitting and soaking in the moments. I thought about the issue of solo hiking, and could not imagine not getting to enjoy these moments... and pondered just how much non-solo hiking was a reasonable balance...?

    I passed Brown Canyon then Deadman Canyon... both reasonable alternatives for looping back to the car, but I wanted to check out the alternative southern fork of the upper Water Canyon. If there was a way to avoid the upper section, directly adjacent to the old hiway it would be nice. I got lucky... the south cut was an open meadow leading right up to one of the old logging roads... a greatly improved access to this wet canyon area.

    All in all... a very nice morning outing. Now, it any of the pictures will have turned out....?
    Brown Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    4:30am... 54.8 degrees out. I was expecting cooler, but this is getting into what might be the hottest days of the year up here. 105 predicted for the valley floor. 6:00am... I look out the tent door and see Elk grazing down below me in the meadow. I snap a couple of pics.

    Slow start today... I worked extra hard yesterday (shoveled 8 cu yds of soil into my trailer... hauled it...shoveled it out of the trailer... then, shoveled it one final time, into the new landscape beds) and I expect to feel the soreness and fatigue settle in before day's end. Still, I'm up and packed and off by 6:40am... just as the temp hit 52.4 degrees. As I dropped down and through the meadow I caught just a hint of the 40's temps that I was hoping for. Being 5,000' higher than home, I can expect a nice 25 degree differential... and, I can expect cool shade and cooling breezes. It was dead calm to start this day, but that was ideal. I could hear the elk moving off and away through the deadfalls.

    Today it was elk and turkey grazing the meadow, each moving off and down as I walked down the canyon. Eventually both would sense I was going to keep coming and moved off up slope. I tried for pics of the turkey, but they manage to stay just a bit too far ahead... they are in the pictures, but they blend in so well... hard to spot.

    I was surprised to discover an old logging road bed... developed enough to be sure it would traverse all the way down to Water Canyon. Odd, there had been no sign of it in the upper portion of the canyon and that is probably why the area has not been torn up by ATV use... they are not aware it's here!

    For the most part, I walked single track, looking down and noting the hoof prints of the elk that had moved along before me. Eventually, I abandoned the meadow track to enjoy the shadier road bed, on the bench slightly up and to the right.

    It was nice... the morning coolness... the scampering turkey... the occasional gurgle of water through the grass.

    I especially enjoyed finding a path up to the rock cliffs. I'd noticed them the week before when hiking an old logging road across the canyon. I'd tried to approach them on another hike (6409) but it did not reach that far over. Now, here they were... and at their base a delightful rock garden.

    If I wanted to log a little getaway backpack, this is where I'd come... running stream for fresh water... deep, dark shade... and rock.

    It was fun to discover where the trail tied in to Water Canyon, both upper and lower sections. Being tired from the previous day's efforts, I thought to make the loop home a bit easier, though easy was not readily available. I knew there was a downshoot off of 6411... But I was probably not far enough down Water Canyon to hit it. Really, I needed to hike it from above to figure out where to tie into it off trail. Still, 6411 was above me, and there was a side drainage providing initial access in the right direction. Up I went.

    It was tough. I'm out of shape and hiking at a heavier body weight... and at 9,000' it adds up. My initial route was sort of straight up: 1800'-2200' per mile slope. Finally, I opted to follow an Elk Hiway... at a much more sensible 900-1400' per mile slope, switch backing up the side of the mountain. It was hard, but nice... and, there it was: 6411. I was no where near the lower road portion; I guess that is for another day. This day, I drug myself up and around and was sitting at my truck, lunching by 11am.

    I wish my energy had been higher... but... there is always tomorrow. Hell, there is still later today... given that it is one of the longer days of the year, I might be able to fit in a nice double today?

    Now, I'll nap and read and work on the computer...

    2:30pm... warmed up... low to mid 80's, but in the shade nice. Occasional hits of warm air, but also bursts of cool breezes. Overall, not bad.

    I downloaded my hiking routes off the GPS unit... without it, the topo map on the computer was worthless. With those routes drawn on, I can begin to get a good idea of what's going on. I'm feeling a little revived, but not sure about another hike. If I head out early in the morning, down 6411, with the idea to loop to Bluff Springs, to log Wills Canyon... that might need me really rested. Perhaps I'll hike FR64... And register it on the GPS unit...? Easy and useful. I'll see how that goes.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Cloudcroft, follow hiway 130, 1.8 miles out to the Sunspot Hiway (6563) and turn right. Follow 6563 to the milepost 13, turning left on to Forest Road 64. Follow this dirt road to the metal swing pole barricade on your left, past the 640B barricades by about one mile. Park on the left.
    page created by imike on Jun 21 2012 12:13 pm
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